After 6 months, it finally hit me that I’m not going back to class anytime soon. I certainly miss parts of college, and the number of people who told me it’s “the best 4 years of your life” leads me to believe a lot of other people feel the same way.
Still, other college experiences are thankfully in the past (I’m looking at you, exams and dirty apartments). Enough time has passed that I now have an accurate feel for life as a recent grad. One of the biggest changes has been my spending habits. Some of these have been positive; others, not so much.
If you’re wondering how your wallet will change after college, let me show you your future.
A Pain In The Gas
I dedicated a huge part of my budget in college to traveling to and from school for breaks and visits, a topic covered heavily here. Except for one train ticket back to visit Boston (which my parents paid for as a birthday gift), I haven’t had to spend money on those types of things.
Instead, I’ve pumped my money, well … into the pump. Gas prices may be falling, but it’s still a huge expense for me. Driving to interviews, networking events, and other non-job search locations have left my poor 1999 hand-me-down Honda Accord thirsty for gas almost once a week. In college, I could walk or take public transit almost anywhere and didn’t even have access to a car.
The freedom of a set of wheels is nice; its price is not.
Off The Books
Any student fears the first week of school for one major reason: textbook buying. Over the years, you figure out ways to save, like renting, shopping online, or occasionally deciding it’s just not worth it. Even with every precaution, you’re still likely to drop three figures on book—and recoup next to none of it when selling them back at semester’s end.
This year, though, my bank account gave a sigh of relief when the leaves changed colors and the book purchase never came. In fact, I’ve done just the opposite, selling some school items that I no longer need for extra money. For instance, I think I officially don’t need to own a graphing calculator any more. Regardless of how much it helped me in high school calculus class, it’s worth more to me now in cash than as a number cruncher.
A college campus is like a small town, and thanks to that big tuition bill, a lot of it is “free.” I had a meal plan all 4 years at school and could eat at the swipe of a card. Living at home means I’m still not spending much on food; however, there are tons of other perks that I now miss.
The lack of a free gym has relegated me to working out in my basement, which is fine even if it doesn’t have many of the options and amenities of a full gym (though it does have a laundry room). In addition, my laptop is 4 years old and gone are both its warranty and round-the-clock assistance on campus. I dropped a pretty penny on an external hard drive in case of an e-mergency.
Plus, on any given day at a decent-sized university, you can find a free slice of pizza or T-shirt at some function. And isn’t that what life is truly about—T-shirts and pizza?
Fellow recent grads, what are you missing about school or loving about the “real world”? Share with a comment!